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Rent assistance program explained

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Marion County’s new rent assistance program could help 7,000 to 11,000 households for up to three months, Mayor Joe Hogsett announced at a press conference July 8.

The program includes $25 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and a grant from the Lilly Endowment. Some of those funds will go toward neighborhood centers to provide other services.

Tenants can begin applying for relief funds at 9 a.m. on July 13 at indyrent.org. 

Hogsett said the program is a short-term solution, and is just one aspect of the city’s plan to help Marion County residents recover from the economic impact of COVID-19.

Last month, the city-county council approved $15 million for rental assistance for Marion County residents. According to Hogsett, along with a $10 million addition from Lilly Endowment, this is one of the largest city-focused rental assistance programs in the country.

“My colleagues and I took quick and decisive action to allocate CARES Act funding,” Vop Osili, president of the city-county council, said. “Our unanimous vote underscores our hope that by working together, we can help some of the burden our citizens are facing.”

With assistance from the Indianapolis Urban League, Indianapolis Public Library and various neighborhood organizations — the latter will be distributing the funds — Marion County residents looking for renters assistance will have to complete a two-part application. The second part of the application must be completed by the tenant’s landlord or property owner. 

Jeff Bennett, deputy mayor of community development, said landlords are not required to take money from the program, but it is in their best interest due to the economic impact of the pandemic. However, if a landlord refuses to participate in the program, Bennett said there are several funding programs available to help tenants who are forced to relocate. 

Indianapolis Public Library CEO Jackie Nytes said those in need of internet access or a computer can go to their closet library branch, regardless of whether or not they have a library card, to get access to the application. Further, staff members at most branches are fluent in Spanish and other languages to assist with language barriers. Masks are required upon entry at any branch.

Tony Mason, president of the Indianapolis Urban League, said after the application is done, the partnering neighborhood center closest to the applicant will review the application, and if permitted by the applicant, can also search for other assistance programs tenants are eligible for. 

“This is a crucial time for our city,” Mason said. “I hope every citizen in Indianapolis takes advantage of this opportunity to get assistance.”

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick. Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.

For more information on the renters assistance program, visit indyrent.org. 

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